Pulau Manukan is one of the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman (Marine) Park, off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

This page only covers information specific to this one island. It’s probably a good idea to first read the general information about the area and the Park here.


There is about 50 square metres of reasonable coral near the East end of Manukan, but otherwise the underwater landscape is unspectacular.  Manukan is the least noted of the islands for snorkelling, but ironically, I did spot a few interesting species there that I didn’t see on the other islands (a nudibranch, a school of baby-squid and a reef shark).

Manukan has the most tourist development of all the TAR Park islands.  There is a resort run by the national park operating company Sutera. When I was there, there was a corporate away-day group doing team-building games on the beach and you can rent some kind of one-man-air-powered-diving-bell thingies.  I usually try to avoid places like this. On the other hand, the extra demand does mean there are more frequent boats going there. Also, it is close to Mamutik, so you can easily combine a day-trip to both islands.

Best-ish seascape:

Typical seascape:
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

– – – –



Getting off the boat and walking down the jetty towards the island, you have beaches on your left and on your right.  The snorkelling (and other facilities) are to the right. Walk right (East) along the beach (or the paved footpath) for about 150m until you see some restaurants. On the beach, there is a lifeguard station (near point G). Just after that, there is a channel through the buoyed-off swimming area, so that boats can bring high-rollin’ customers right into the beach.  Standing here where the private boats land, looking out to sea, and to the left, you will see a tall while buoy about 150m away (at about point A). The decent snorkelling is just beyond this buoy, starting around point B.

You have got OK reef at a few metres depth around in the area around B and C.
MSTARPManukan_18_AreaCGoodSeascape.jpg MSTARPManukan_19_DecoratedRabbitfish_SiganusPuellus.jpg MSTARPManukan_21_Redfish.jpg MSTARPManukan_22_AreaC.jpg


There is a drop-off around point C, going down to about 10m. This gives some variation in seascape and tends to house some bigger fish.  I saw a small white-tip gliding by at about 7m, but it was too shy to hang around for a picture. (Scared of Sharks? – read this).

There seems to me more than the usual abundance of anemones here.
MSTARPManukan_28_Anemones1.jpg MSTARPManukan_33_Anemones2.jpg MSTARPManukan_34_Anemones3.jpg MSTARPManukan_34_Anemones4.jpg MSTARPManukan_35Anemones5.jpg

It was here that I saw a school of about 15 baby squid (the only ones I saw in Malaysia).  They started out black, but then camouflaged themselves by turning a shade of light grey to blend in with the surface-water before scooting off into the distance. They were back 20 minutes later.


Off towards point D, the reef fades out and you are left with sandy bottom and lots of broken-up coral fragments.

Also saw a nudibranch here.

There were also quite a lot of sting-y jellyfish (the kind that gives you a burn for a few days, not the kind that kill you).


Around point E, there are rocks and a few algae-eating fish, but it was all pretty unspectacular here.


I had been intending to swim all the way around the island, but due to the stingies being blown-in on the North Easterly wind, I gave up at F.


Back-tracking through the shallower waters back round to the start point, there is just plain sandy-bottom.  There’s quite a steep sandy drop-off only about 20m off the beach which takes (non) swimmers by surprise.


Around point H, they were renting out these weird submarine things. Apparently the air tank powers the propellor as well as filling up the big helmet thing. I don’t like the look of that huge dead-air space. Not good for carbon dioxide build-up.
MSTARPManukan_71_Submarine.jpg MSTARPManukan_74Submarines.jpg


On the West side of the jetty there’s a nice beach, but there was nothing going-on snorkelling-wise.  I had heard that the best snorkelling was to the West of the island, so I ploughed down as far as I could stay awake for. Past the end of the beach, past the staff jetty, past the generator, past the boat-shed, past the fields of floating crisp packets.  No – nowt,  just sandy bottom and some sections with miserable looking stag-horn coral.

Stick around areas B and C in Manukan.

Here’s some random piccies.

Nemos_P7060216.jpg EggSac_P7060227.jpg Sponge-Coral_P7060152.jpg MushroomCoral_P7060245_.jpg OrangelinedTriggerfish_P7060218_.jpg  RedBreased-MaouriWrasse_P7060168_.jpg  Sweepers_P7060219_.jpg featherduster-worm_P7060083.jpg Nudibranch_P7060117_.jpg Parrotfish_P7060156_.jpg Needlefish_P7060161_.jpg



Other relevant pages:

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – general

Pulau Mamutik

Pulau Manukan

Pulau Sapi

Species list




First visited/written: July 2012                       Last updated: July 2012


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